Blowing in the wind
Seems like a no-brainer to me. We burn fossil fuels and pollute the atmosphere that sustains us. We split atoms and – oops – irradiate the land we live off. However, we're surrounded in natural energy that we can draw upon without, it seems, hurting anyone. Wind power – great idea. But if you're not so sure about those giant windmill farms, here are some alternative ideas for turbines.
Doug Selsam is a serious player in the wind power world. Pictured top is his extremely photogenic Sky Serpent, which uses a line of small rotors that catches wind more efficiently than large rotors. Check out his website – there's plenty more to see on there.
Above is the Darrieus turbine, a vertical axis device which has been around since 1931. It looks cool, but isn't seen as often as the more conventional windmill design. It's something to do with its inability to withstand extreme wind conditions, apparently… scary thought.
Here's a great idea. A highway-mounted wind turbine, or Parasitic Catalyst. Developed by a student called Joe at Arizona State University, the turbines would use the energy created by passing traffic. Each turbine would generate enough energy per year to light up a small apartment. Every little bit helps, right?
Another visually appealing option is from Helix Wind (above). What looks like a sculpture on a pedestal is in fact a streamlined but highly efficient (and really quiet) turbine. Isn't it time we all had these in our back yards?
And here's a good one to end on, the Humdinger Windbelt. Created by MIT grad Shawn Frayne, it uses aeroelastic flutter to pull energy from the wind. Various devices are already powering lamps and radios all over the world. In the picture above, it's powering a cell phone. Definitely one to watch. RM